tv Martin Bashir MSNBC October 31, 2012 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
willing to go to war with any republican politician it considers a sellout. romney knows this too. if he tried to be anything other than a severe conservative, his presidency would be crippled. okay. that does it for "the cycle." on that note, martin bashir, it's all yours. >> thanks, steve. it's october, wednesday, the 131 31st, and we are moments from the president speaking amid the devastation of sandy. we are now awaiting remarks
from the president and governor chris christie after their tour of storm-ravaged southern new jersey. the president took in the damage from a chopper, then visiting with new jerseyians at a storm shelter near atlantic city, accompanied by governor chris christie. the jersey shore, once home to the frivolous activities of a reality show, now marked as the area hardest hit by the storm. whole towns, swallowed by the storm. communities and lives left in disarray. and with six days to go until the presidential election, there were no overt politics in new jersey today. with the commander in chief seizing the moment to work with a republican governor, offering leadership and comfort in a moment of crisis and catastrophe. and while the president has canceled several days of campaigning to respond to the disaster, mitt romney is carrying on the campaign trail in florida today. mr. romney faces the challenge of pivoting a campaign based almost entirely on criticizing the president as a failure and facing dreaded questions on his
statement that he'd cut fema and return it to the states. the campaign has a clear media strategy on that front, and many others, of course. it's three weeks since mr. romney took a question from any reporter. let's get rate to our panel, as we await the president. richard wolffe is with me, the vp and executive editor of msnbc.com. and in washington, msnbc analyst eugene robinson, a pulitzer prize-winning columnist for "the washington post." richard, if i can start with you. with all due respect to romney and ryan, this is a big government moment, isn't it? this is a moment when, for all that they've said throughout this campaign, mr. ryan, mr. romney, about how they want to eviscera eviscerate government, this is actually a moment when we need government. >> it's a time when pieces of government come together, state, local, and federal. it's a moment when you move
beyond party. they're not republicans and democrats in new jersey, they're just americans in need. and those messages, of course, resonate with americans in general. they also happen to be part of what the president and what governor christie is talking about. you know, this is the kind of politics that independent voters, moderates, the gettable, undecided -- >> that tiny number. >> that's what they want to see. they want to see a system that works. and when you have frankly, someone who is brash and outspoken and conservative, working with a president who's supposed to be polarizing, christie and obama working together with a single focus, i think it actually encourages people about politics, about government, and about these two individuals. because it does take leaders, it does take individuals, full credit to the two men involved. >> indeed. i would say a hearty amen to that. eugene, the president has been pretty evenhanded in the way he's responded to this storm. he tells fema, no bureaucracy, no red tape. he tells the governors to call him directly if they're not getting the help they need. he's not delegating
responsibility, he is taking it, isn't he? >> he is. and that's what you would want a president to do in this sort of situation. it's, frankly, what george w. bush did not do in hurricane katrina and we saw the result as well as the political price. so, i think it's fascinating, for people to watch, as chris christie, as pugnacious as he is, on the republican side, for republican ideas and values, to see where that ends for him. to see him say, essentially, but, yes, there is a big role for government in our society, and thank god we have it. >> indeed. richard, mr. romney has spent, as you know, each of the debates repeatedly suggesting, and in florida, i was just listening to him, and he was saying again, i'm the man for bipartisanship. i'm the person who can bring both sides of the aisle together. and what do we have in front of our very eyes, but the president
embodying the very thing that this man can only talk about. >> right. and that's, of course, what challenges are left with. they're left with a promise and a speech and a microphone and a stage, where presidents can actually do stuff. the interest thing is that for four years, the republican party has had an organized effort to say that this president is not a bipartisan figure. he could not deliver on his fundamental promise, because they were going to deny him any republican cooperation. we know that they met on inaugural night, congressional leaders did, we know that mitch mcconnell's strategy through health care was to deny any semblance of bipartisanship. so he created this very disciplined approach, which can be very successful, to say no republican support whatsoever. governor chris christie, in the last 48 to 72 hours, has single handedly destroyed that image. because, although they've got lots of differences and lots of different policy areas, if a conservative like christie can work with a president like obama, that means president
obama is not actually some socialist radical, where there is no common ground that republicans can find. there is common ground, if the republicans stop campaigning and start dealing with the problems in front of this country. >> to richard's point, eugene, do you not think that this now exposes mr. eric cantor, mitch mcconnell, and the congressional republicans for what they have been doing? and it seems almost cyclical, as richard was saying, at the beginning of this presidency, they say they're going to oppose him. at the end, he finds one republican in the form of chris christie, who's willing to work with him. >> it is amazing, one. one in there. in fact, there's more than one. and there would have been, frankly, a lot more, had there not been this organized effort to deny president obama any republican votes on anything. which was sort of brutally enforced. i mean, there are republican senators whom i know of, who i
voted in health care, for example, against ideas that they hads espoused on the floor of the senate. but they vote against them. and at one point, the president asked one senator in particular, you know, what can i do? what can i put into this bill that will get your vote? and the answer was, you know, frankly, mr. president, there is nothing, because i simply cannot expose myself politically and vote for even things that i support. i mean, that's the lunacy that has passed for congress, under the republicans in the past four years. >> indeed. richard, stop press. we have breaking news. mitt romney, although refusing to answer personal questions of any kind, three-week anniversary today from the last time he answered a question, he has now issued a statement, supporting fema. he says, i'm quoting, as president, i will ensure fema has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission. so once again, here's mitt
romney, finger in the air, wind blowing, oh, it's a heavy storm, i support fema. this is embarrassing. >> it only took him 48 hours to support fema. you would hope that president romney could respond to a storm faster than he did about fema. but it's very hard to square with what he's saying about fema now with the very morality-laden approach that he took in the republican debates. remember, what he's describing in the statement is actually status quo, it's not big change. but it is a big change from what he said before. which is, you know, fema funding, if it comes from debt, which every extra dollar does -- >> is a moral problem for this nation. >> is a moral problem. >> it's not just an issue of money. >> it's a moral problem. more than the moral problem of dealing with people in need in a disaster zone. now that has been jettisoned, because hep wants to appear moderate. it's very hard to know who the real mitt romney is, but at least he could speed up his
response time. >> and martin, by the way, it does not square with what we know of the romney/ryan budget plan. because if, indeed, you cut income tax rates by 20%, and you boost defense spending, you've got to -- essentially, you've got to cut discretionary sending, if you're not going to add to the deficit, by a draconian level. you've got to cut it by like 40%, including fema. so, it's impossible to square what we -- again, what we know of his budget plan, since he won't lay them out in detail, and this new statement that, oh, well, of course i'm going to fully fund fema. well, gee, what's he going to say today. of course he loves fema now. but he didn't love it when they were coming up with a budget plan. >> and to eugene's point, if mitt romney thinks he might get some solace from ryan, there's the paul ryan budget, which also slashes any amount, what is it, $23 million from the budget from
fema? i mean, again, their actual plans would eviscerate provisions for the kind of plastic surge emergency that this nation is facing today. >> and very shortly, we're going to be discussing whether or not to raise the debt ceiling again. and debt ceilings get pushed out by these kinds of disasters. you know, the new york subway has to be cleared out. the new york subway is not going to pay for that on its own. they're going to need federal support across this area. that's going to run right up against this debt ceiling. let's see if the republicans remember that their nominee, maybe their president-elect, says fema should be fully federally funded. >> and we look forward too hearing if bain capital will provide the funding. eugene wolffe -- sorry, richard wolffe and eugene robinson, gentleman, thank you. coming up, much more on sandy's aftermath and the political consequences of this historic storm as we await the president and governor chris christie. stay with us. i'm only in my 60's...
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. as you join us, we are awaiting remarks from the president and new jersey governor chris christie. there's the microphone set and ready for them. we understand that they'll be at that microphone very soon. the pair touring hurricane-damaged areas of new jersey today, witnessing firsthand both the devastation and the importance of fema. and joining us now from washington, jared bernstein, who's formerly the chief economic adviser to the vice president and jonathan capehart, an opinion writer for "the washington post." both are msnbc contributors. jared, i understand you yourself had something of a power cut and you had to go to duncan doughnuts to get some work done. and while you were sitting there, you had some time to reflect on fema, on mitt romney, and on the paul ryan budget. what did you conclude, jared?
>> well, first, i concluded i was very lucky, relative to many others, who were devastated by this storm, but on a broader perspective, what i concluded was that mitt romney and paul ryan's position on fema, on disaster relief, is one that's totally inconsistent with a centralized role for disaster preparedness. it makes absolutely no sense to think about privatizing or block granting this function to states. they simply can't do it. it's unimaginable that the federal government would tell a state, i'm sorry, your block grant ran out, so we can't help you. if you actually look back at mitt romney's comments about shuddering fema or shuffling it off to the states, or even better, privatizing it, it's pure ideological rhetoric about how any time you're kick something to the states, that's better. that's not what you want from a president in a time of natural disaster. and even romney and ryan recognized that now, as you can tell from your current rhetoric, but they really have no place to hide from it. >> jared, we're watching live
pictures. the president has just come out of his motorcade. he's about to address us and make some comments. there is governor chris christie. the governor of new jersey. earlier today, they joined together in a helicopter ride above the scene, observing the vast devastation that's occurred in that area. and also, they then visited the town of brigantine, where they met with a number of local residents and members of the community. john, as i observe these pictures, we were talking earlier about mitt romney spending this whole campaign promising that he was the one person in america who could bridge the partisan divide, and look at those images and tell me, is the president not embodying bipartisanship at this very moment in front of you? >> exactly, exactly. the president has been someone who has reached across the
aisle, or at least has tried to reach across the aisle, to work with republicans for at least the last two years and has been smacked back every time, and the republicans have named that, namely the top of the ticket, has used that as why they think the president has failed and why mitt romney is the one who can go to washington and reach across the aisle and work with members of congress to get things done for the country. and yet here you have the president of the united states with mitt romney's chief and bombastic surrogate there, together, in a state that's been ravaged by hurricane sandy, working together. and on top of it, you have had chris christie singing the president's praises the for at least the last 24 hours. that completely blows up governor romney's closing argument for why he should replace president obama in the oval office. >> indeed. jared, it's not just this issue of bipartisanship, but mitt romney, as you know, has said,
previously and repeatedly, particularly in the debates, that he would like to remove an organization like fema. >> right. >> now, not only is that highly inefficient, in terms of resourcing, but can i ask you, would it not also likely raise local taxes, because if each state is required to provide emergency assistance, then each state has to fund what the federal government is providing right this moment. >> precisely. instead of having a centralized disaster relief fund, which, of course, fema represents, each state would have to do so. by the way, they wouldn't do so. because state budgets don't work that way. everything is fungible. and in tough times like now, states can't run budget deficits. that fund would be dry, i guarantee you. and what's going to happen? the federal government's going to say, no, forget it? that's just not part of our budget? again, you know, mitt romney was really stuck yesterday. i thought it was quite embl emblematic that he wouldn't
answer questions about fema. because his position thus far on everything has been, tell me what you, voter, want to hear, and i'll tell you that's my position. on a day like yesterday, with the devastating storm, he really couldn't -- his antenna couldn't pick up just which way to flip-flop or pander. because the currents were so strong, understanding the kind of bipartisanship you're about to hear from these two political representatives, where politics takes a backseat. and actually doing something serviceable for a country in need takes over. so it's been fascinating, really. >> jared, are you honestly suggesting that mitt romney is not actually competent on policy, but principally, about pandering? you couldn't possibly be suggesting such a thing. >> to me, seriously, that was the -- >> i am being serious, jared. >> yes -- if you look at the foreign policy debate, that was another example to me, again, of mitt romney saying, i can't figure out what the median voter who's going to ultimately decide this thing wants me to say, so i'm going to be all over the
map, i'm just going to agree with the president, whatever. same thing on fema. it was something to privatize, to kick to the states. you hit a natural disaster, and there's an obvious role that we just discussed, an efficient economic role for a centralized government, a role by the federal government and he's speechless, doesn't know what to say. >> indeed. thank you, jonathan and jared, please stay with us. but i would like to bring in mike viqueira, who's reporting for us from the white house. we're watching pictures of president obama accompanied by are chris christie, both of whom are about to make a public statement. and mike, the president not only visiting the region this morning, he's also telephoned hospitals in new york, he visited the red cross, he visited fema as well, right? >> reporter: that's right. it was his second trip in about four days the. he was there on sunday as that hurricane was still bearing down on the east coast, before it became clear exactly where and when it would rip into the east coast and now the president
today has seen the devastation, its aftermath, firsthand. taking that helicopter ride, airborne for about an hour, chris christie, with the fema administrator, craig fugate, looking at many of the areas. we have seen through media shots, aerial shots, including atlantic city, the boardwalk there, long beach island, places called ship bottom, seaside heights, which has now been almost obliterated. at least the portions that are closest to the beach. the president seeing that firsthand. then these two men, these three men, i should say, governor christie, the president, and administrator fugate going to brigantine beach, the community center there, housing as many as 200 new jerseyians who needed shelter, who were displaced and in distress. the president spoke with them. and again, governor christie speaking in very -- praising the president, praising his response. saying the president really means what he says when he says the federal government is going to do everything it can to help get new jersey, get to the
jersey shore, which governor christie calls the soul of new jersey, back on its feet. they spoke with some of the people there at the shelter. they have now come to this area, where we can expect the president to make a statement. you're right, to go back. the president visiting fema. he had around him at the table there, many of the cabinet secretaries whose departments are going to be directly affected or involved in this recovery effort, including transportation, including hhs, hud, the secretary of defense was there as well. john brennan, the homeland security and counterterrorism adviser here at the white house. so a full array of administration power, being brought to bear to coordinate with the states. and that is partly what fema's role is, martin, as new jersey struggles to recover and other areas struggle to recover. one more thing, craig fugate telling reporters today aboard air force one, they are transitioning from a search and rescue operation to try to take care of the immediate needs of the victims across the northeast.
but there is no all-clear that has been given. obviously, power still out for millions of americans. >> indeed, mike. and the president combining all those government departments, as you say, but actually leading himself. >> reporter: well, that's right. and you were talking about, if you want to get into the machiavellian nature of the -- >> trust you to do that. trust you to do that, viqueira. >> reporter: you have to take into the political profit mode is always in play, and that's as it should be. our system of government has made allowance for that. chris christie, his state is under incredible duress. it's been devastated. he's not going to be snubbing the president. it's important for both of these men, from a political standpoint. and, obviously, first and foremost, for the welfare of the victims and the people who have been distressed, who have had their property destroyed, who have seen their life savings literally watched out to sea, to work together. no one under these circumstances wants to see the usual partisan sniping and trench warfare that is so endemic to our political
system. so, you know, everybody -- nobody doubts the fact that governor christie and president obama want to have a recovery work as smoothly, as comprehensively, and as efficiently as it possibly can to help these people. >> if i can go back to you, jonathan capehart. i want to mention, mike viqueira talking about the cynical nature of politics, and suggesting or implying that every day is a political day. well, yesterday we received some criticism for discussing mitt romney's so-called storm relief event in the context of a campaign event. and i was eviscerated by telephone calls and so on. but now it emerges, according to buzz feed, that $5,000 was spent by the campaign to make the display of food look bigger. what's your assessment of what happened yesterday, john? >> oh, my. a campaign event that was not a campaign event, but was a campaign event. >> and was funded by the romney campaign, to the tune, no less, of $5,000.
>> of $5,000. governor romney was stuck. he had a campaign event planned for ohio, a state that he needs to win. hurricane sandy blows in, devastates everything, decides not to campaign, but he still is running for president, so he decides, i think, on paper it might have sounded like a go ahead idea, to turn their campaign event into a relief event, have people come, show up with canned goods and things, and then, you know, everyone is and looks caring and compassionate, but when you put it through the presidential election lens, it came off a little ham-handed. and now to have this new information about the campaign spending its own money to bulk up the appearance of the event, it just sort of adds to the theater of what mitt romney -- >> are you reaching for the word "crass," jonathan? >> yes, martin, i was. >> thank you. we're watching the president, as i say. he's about to give some remarks
at a microphone that's been set up for both himself and governor chris christie. he's accompanied there my senators robert menendez, senator frank lautenberg, representative frank labdono, and the brigantine mayor, as well as atlantic county executive, dennis levenson. i want to go back to mike viqueira, are you still there? >> reporter: yes. >> you've observed this opposition to this president. we've had senator mitch mcconnell publicly say that his determination is to deny this man a second term. do you think that what is happening right now, before our eyes, is likely to spill over? should the president win re-election in some way, so that he'll be able to reach to the other side and say, look, the way we've been doing things for the last four years doesn't make
any sense to the american people. >> reporter: i think that we can all hope that that's the case. i would seriously doubt it. >> really?! so another four years of gridlock. >> reporter: after we suffered the worst terrorist disaster imaginable, what was unthinkable, that happened on september 11th, members of congress joined on the steps of the congress and sang "god bless america," i was there, it was a very moving moment. it didn't last, that feeling. and i don't think, under these circumstances, as tragic and terrible as they are, it's going to last again. i think if the president is re-elected, the best hope to break the gridlock, if the predicate is correct, that republicans are obstructionists, they were simply trying to stand in his way, to make him lack bad so he would be defeated for re-election, the president won't be standing for re-election in 2016, so it takes away that incentive. and that, perhaps, will be the thing that allows things to get
done, and most immediately, of course, is something to be done about the so-called fiscal cliff, martin. >> indeed. jared, i wanted to raise the fiscal cliff with you, because nobody is suggesting the irresponsible spending of money, but at a crisis point like this, it does raise questions about what happens come that moment at the beginning of next year. >> right. >> interestingly, fema has been exempted from many of the cuts or caps so far. but it does, once again, remind you of what a bad idea it is to have these automatic, across-the-board cuts. hey, i want to come back to something you and mike were talking about. when mike was talking about the bipartisan efforts towards recovery, of course, he was talking about recovery from the storm. i couldn't help but hear recovery from an economic standpoint. and it just got me to thinking, how much progress we actually could make, and mike's probably work. you know, his skepticism is certainly well founded.
how much progress we could make on the economy and a much more slow drag kind of difficulty and pain that so many families are feeling if these parties would work together on the economic recovery, as well as they appear to be doing on the storm recovery. >> so i repeat to you, jared, the question, do you share mike viqueira's sin skpichl skepticism -- >> you know, it's a funny thing, when i hear mike say it, i think it's right, but i don't really share it. >> because you're an optimist. >> i'm an optimist. but i think everybody is saying, i hope that this kind of bipartisanship could last, because it's so important to us. >> indeed. jonathan capehart, if i could come back to you, chris christie delivered, as you put it, a bombastic speech, a keynote
speeched a are the republican convention. he has been a great cheerleader for mr. romney. do you think people in the republican party are going to wonder exactly what he's doing, by the way he keeps praising the president? today he was saying, the president is here, it's important he's here, we're thankful that the president is here, we appreciate his support. how is that going down do you think, with republicans who are fighting this presidential campaign? >> the republicans who are fi t fighting the presidential campaigns, the hard and fast warriors there, can't possibly be thrilled or happy with what chris christie is doing. first he goes to the come nating convention, gives the keynote speech and mentions himself or the word "i" more than the way he does mitt romney's own name. but also, he wants to leave presidential politics out of this, but politics is all part of this. and what you have here is the governor of a devastated state who is up for re-election next
november, november 2013. he is a republican governor of a blue state. a state that more likely than not will vote for president obama. these pictures that we're seeing today, what we're watching right now, don't be surprised if you see it again a year from now, when he's running for re-election. so, again, chris christie, thought of himself during the convention in tampa in august, and at some point, somewhere in the recesses of his brain, he's got to be thinking, not just about the people of his state and getting them through this tragedy, but also what it means for him to be seen working with the democratic president of the united states, who at this point, very well could be the next president of the united states, if things go the way the folks in chicago want it to go on november 6th. >> indeed. mike viqueira, i'm watching chris christie live, governor christie, with the president, and it seems as though mr. christie was kind of made for this kind of situation. he seems to have embraced this
in a really -- but seriously, mike. he does, doesn't he? >> well, here's a guy who, i think he would describe himself this way. he's very new jersey. i mean, he's very emphatic, he's very emotional. jonathan used the word "bombastic," i don't think many people would object to that characterization. he empathizes quite well. he's very demonstrative. and i think that as a leader of a state that is undergoing what this state is going through this week, and will doubtlessly be going through, if you've seen some of these pictures for weeks and months to come in terms of recovery and getting back on its feet, on the jersey shore, that he's probably very well suited to this role, and i think that both of these men, the president, as you see them now walk towards the microphone, are well suited to each other. compliment each other, almost. and i know that a lot of republicans are going to have a hard time listening to that, as you and jonathan have been discussing. but i think that's quite evident now. >> indeed. jared, very briefly before the
president and governor christie speaks, i noticed the moody's don't appear to have made any adjustments in relation to gdp as a result of this storm. would you agree with that? we're hearing a number in excess of $50 billion worth of damage. >> moody's made that projection a day or so ago, before some recent information came in. but it is true that some of the rebuilding that goes on actually feeds in positively to gdp growth. it's a strange thing that happens, it's because it's gross domestic product, not net domestic product, but i don't go into the details here. so the rebuild actually adds to the growth. but i don't think the magnitude of the losses were known. but i don't suspect this is going to take down any gdp forecasts much at all, because of the offsetting factors. the costs on one side, and i wouldn't call it benefits, but the positive feeding into growth, of all the rebuilding
efforts. >> jared, you know that the president in the form of american jobs act has been pleading with congress to allow him to employee people, both in sectors like education and construction, to improve the infrastructure, aging infrastructure of this country. do you think that what has happened here is, in a way, going to produce an accidental stimulus, simply by the effect of this natural disaster, which will force the state of new jersey, new york, and other places around the country, to spend money on rebuilding? >> right, well, that's precisely the effect that i was just menti mentioning, in terms of adding to gdp growth, from rebuilding things that were destructed. but beyond that, there are many infrastructure projects implied by this disaster, including, by the way, burying power lines that are aboveground, and thus exposed, in storms like this. >> jonathan, i wanted to come back to you, briefly, as the president and governor christie prepare to speak. they're still greeting people on
the street there. they're very nearby. senator bob menendez, senator frank lautenberg are with them. we've heard mitt romney's position on climate change, which we think on most issues, has tended to be on both sides of the argument. what does he say now, given what has happened here, where so many experts in the field of environmental science have suggested that what is happening with these severe weather systems is becoming more frequent, as a result of climate change? >> well, martin, governor romney hasn't said a whole lot about a lot of things recently. you know, folks asked him 14 times yesterday, whether he was going to -- whether he wanted to get rid of fema. the last thing he heard or the last thing i remember hearing from governor romney on climate change was, he was questioning the science of climate change. and this is the same person who, when he was governor the first
two years, was one of the leaders of reggie, the state consortium of governors, who wanted to do something about greenhouse gas emissions. two years later, he pulls out of it, as he was ramping up his run for president, the first run for president in 2008. so i think, you just -- he's been on every side of this issue, so the latest incarnation is that governor romney has questioned the science behind climate change. >> but also, john, i remember mr. romney's speech at the convention, where one of the biggest laugh lines that he thought he was delivering was when he mocked the president for being concerned about the rise of the oceans. >> right. the rising oceans and the warming planet. and president clinton had a great retort to that criticism during his campaign event yesterday, when the president said, you know, the folks in my neck of the country wish, you
know, that we had someone in office, who could do something about it. not so implicit knock against governor romney, who has made it clear, both in that convention speech, but in speeches prior to that convention speech, that he just doesn't buy the notion that mankind, humankind, is responsible in any way for the changes in climate that we've been experiencing. >> martin, can i make a quick point? >> please. >> just to be clear, something i said earlier. i wanted to get back to that, it is the case that fema, funding for fema, is not exempt from the automatic cuts or so-called sequestration. so if the sequestration does occur, these automatic cuts, $110 billion next year, that will hit fema as well. another good reason to try to make sure that doesn't happen. >> indeed. i believe we have ed markey with us at the moment. is that right, sir?
oh, we don't. i'm so sorry. i was just told we did, but we don't. jared, going back to the economics of this and the fiscal cliff, how -- i mean, what happens now. because the president has already said that he wishes to have some kind of discussion as soon as possible about this matter. >> yeah. look, this is really quite simple. you can make it as complicated as you want. looks like they are about to speak here. >> yes, they are. >> i used to work for the president, by the way. this is not the first time he's interrupted me. but that's okay. >> let's listen to the president and governor chris christie. >> good afternoon, everybody, and thank you all for coming today. i want to thank the members who are here as well and obviously i want to thank the president. e we spent a significant afternoon together surveying the damage up and down the new jersey coastline. we were on marine one together, to be able to show the president that personally, and we had an
opportunity to see it and discuss it at length. and going over to the shelter here, to be able to meet with folks, to have people be able to see the president and his concern and the concern all of us have for making sure that things get back to normal as quickly as possible. we have lots of challenges. our challenge now is to get back to normalcy. to the things we need to do is to make sure we get power restored as quickly as possible. make sure that people have clean drinking water and waste water treatment plants are working, hospitals are taken care of the way we need to and we get kids back to school. i just went over all those issues today with the president, and i'm pleased to report that he has sprung into action immediately to help get us those things while we were in the car riding together. so i want to thank him for that. he has worked incredibly closely with me, since before the storm hit. i think this is our sixth conversation since the weekend. and it's been a great working relationship to make sure that we're doing the jobs that people elected us to do.
and i cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state. and i heard it on the phone conversations with him, and i was able to witness it today, personally. and so, we're going to continue our work, the state government is here, we're doing what we need to do, we'll coordinate with fema, and i want to thank mr. fugate for being here and for the input he's already had to help make our operation even better. and we'll move on from here. what i said yesterday, i really mean. i know there's got to be sorrow, and you see that, and the president has seen that today, in the eyes and faces of a lot of the folks he's met. and that sorrow is appropriate. we've suffered some loss. luckily, we haven't suffered that much loss of life, and we thank god for that. but we have suffered losses. and this is the worst storm that i've seen in my lifetime in this state. but we cannot permit that sorrow to replace the resilience that i know all new jerseyians have. so we will get up and we'll get this thing rebuilt and we'll put
things back together, because that's what this state is all about and always has been all about. and so, for all of you who are here, and i met a bunch of you today at brigantine, who disregarded my admonition, to get the hell out of here, you kno know! you are forgiven this time, but not for much longer. we've got to make sure. when you all look around and see all this destruction, that's fine, all that stuff can be replaced. look to your right and to your left, to your husband or wife, your son or your daughter, those are the things that can't be replaced. so i'm glad we don't have that kind of loss of life to have to deal with. so i want to thank you for being here, for bringing his personal attention to it, and it's my honor to introduce to all of you the president of the united states. >> thank you, everybody. let me just say make sure that i acknowledge the folks who are here because they've played an important role in this. first of all, your congressional delegation, senator bob menendez, senator frank
lautenberg, congressman frank lobeyando, county executive, and brigantine mayor, phillip gunther. obviously, this is a federal, state, and local effort. and the fist thing i want to do is just to thank everybody who has been involved in the entire rescue and recovery process. at the top of my list, i have to say that governor christie, throughout this process, has been responsive. he's been aggressive in making sure that the state got out in front of this incredible storm, and i think the people of new jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of new jersey bounce back, even storm warning stronger than before. so i want to thank him.
and i want to thank the organization because they helped to make sure that fema financing was in help. and we're very appreciative of those efforts. and, you know, i want to thank craig fugate. sometimes, you know, people just think fema, and they don't thank the people behind them. but craig lives and breathes this stuff, making sure that we're providing the help that people so desperately need in these situations. i want to thank all the first responders who have been involved in this process, the linesmen, the firefighters, the folks who were in here, shoveling out people who were supposed to get the hell out and didn't. you know, you've helped to save a lot of lives and a lot of property. and, and one thing you learn in these tragedies is the first responders, keep in mind, their homes are usually underwater too, or their families have been affected in some way, and yet
they make those personal sacrifices to help other people. so, we really appreciate them. i'm just going to make a couple of comments. number one, and most important, our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. it's true that because of some good preparation, the loss of life was kept lower than it might have been, but for those individual families, obviously, you know, their world has been torn apart. and we need to make sure that everybody who's lost a loved one know that they're in our thoughts and prayers. and i speak for the whole country there. for those like, you know, the people i just had the chance to meet on this block and throughout new jersey and throughout the region, whose lives have been upended, my second message is, we are here for you. and we will not forget. we will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you've rebuilt.
at this point, our main focus is on the states of new jersey, which got hit harder than anybody, the state of new york, particularly lower manhattan and long island. we are very concerned about some situations in connecticut as well and we're still monitoring west virginia, where there are heavy snows in some inaccessible areas. but, you know, for the most part, those four states are really bearing the brunt of this incredible storm. what we've been able to do is to preposition and stage commodities, water, power generators, ambulances in some cases, food, medical supplies, emergency supplies, and we have over 2,000 fema personnel that are on the ground right now. their job, now that we're moving
out of the search and rescue phase, is to make sure that they are going out and talking to individual communities, so that people know exactly how they can get the help that they need. you know, we expedited our emergency declarations for the state of new jersey and local counties that have been affected. what that means is that people can immediately start registering for emergency assistance. and one of the things i want to emphasize to the people in new jersey and throughout the region. now that, you know, you're safe, your family's safe, but you're trying to figure out where you're going to stay for the next couple of days, et cetera, it's very important that you know that there's help available to you right now, for example, to find rental housing, or to be able to pay for some groceries. over at the community center, we saw a young woman who had a newborn, or, i guess, probably an 8-month-old, still needs
diapers and formula and has run out. those are the types of basic supplies and help that we can provide. if you call 800-621-fema, or disasterassistance.gov, if you've got access to the internet, you can go to disasterassistance.gov, what that allows you to do is to register right now, so that you can immediately start receiving help. you know, we want to make sure that you get everything that you need. just a couple of final points. obviously, our biggest priority right now is getting power turned back on. we were very pleased that newark got power yesterday. jersey city is getting power, we believe, today. but there are still big chunks of the community, including this community right here, that don't have power. and, so, it's hard enough, cleaning up debris and dealing with boats that have been upended and, you know, roads that are blocked, when people don't have power, though,
obviously, they're disabled in allways and it's hard to get back to normal. so yesterday i had a chance to speak to the ceos of the utilities from all across the country, and a lot of the states that were spared, that were not hard hit or some states as faraway as california, they have pledged to start getting equipment, crews, et cetera, here into new jersey and new york and connecticut as quickly as possible. and one of the things that we've been able to do, just to give you a sense of how this is an all-hands-on-deck approach, we're able to get c-17s and c-130s, military transport planes, potentially, to move assets, personnel, to speed up the process of getting power up and running as soon as possible. our first priority is, you know,
water filtration plants and some other critical infrastructure in the state. for that, we've got emergency generators. we've got a navy ship that has some helicopters that can help to move assets around the state as well. and so we're going to be working with governor christie's office and local officials to identify, what are those critical infrastructure, how can we get what's needed as quickly as possible. just a couple other things that we're concerned about. one is, as power starts coming back on, we want to make sure that people can also get to work. obviously, there are a lot of folks in jersey, who work in new york, in the city, and in other places, where transportation may be hobbled, one of the things that i mentioned to the governor is the possibility of us using federal assets, military assets, as well as taking inventory of assets from around the country that can be brought in, so we can help people get to their
work, and governor christie also mentioned the importance of schools. the sooner we can get our kids back into school, the sooner they're back in a routine, that obviously helps the families and helps the kids as well. so we're going to have a lot of work to do. i don't want anybody to feel that somehow this is all going to get cleaned up overnight. weapon want to make sure that people have realistic expectations. but what i can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials and we will not quit until this is done. and the directive that i have given, and i said this yesterday, but i will repeat, and i think craig and others who are working with me right now, know i mean it, we are not going to tolerate, we're not going to tolerate bureaucracy, and, you know, i've instituted a 15-minute rule, essentially, on my team. you return everybody's phone calls in 15 minutes, whether it's the mayor's, governor's,
county officials, if they need something, we figure out a way to say yes. you know, as i was just gathering around, i had a chance to talk to some of the young people here who have been volunte volunteering, going up and down the block, cleaning up debris. and when we were over at the community center, there was a restaurant owner who for the last 18 hours, had been cooking meals, you know, just as his contribution to the recovery process, and, you know, some of the folks were saying the food was better than they got at home. you know, you had a 15-year-old young man whose mother was disabled and he was making sure that she was okay and taking on extraordinary responsibilities for himself, but also for his mom. when you see folks like that respond with strength and resilience. when you see neighbors helping neighbors, then you're reminded
about what america's all about. you know, we go through tough times but we bounce back. and the reason we bounce back is because we look out for one another. and we don't leave anybody behind. so my commitment to the people on this block, the people of this community, and the people of this state is that that same spirit will carry over all the way through until our work is done. all right? thank you very much, everybody. >> that was the president of the united states with governor chris christie, speaking about his experience there today, in new jersey, describing a number of personal anecdotes, meeting a mother with an 8-month-old baby, talking about the fact that she ran out of diapers and formula and that the federal government was there for her. speaking about a 15-year-old boy la looking after his disabled mother and displaying the kind of strength and resilience that the president speaks of as being essentially american. we're joined now by
representative debbie wasserman schultz, chair of the democratic national committee. congresswoman, i know you had the chance to listen to those remarks. i wonder if you could give me your immediate reaction to what you heard the president say, and indeed, governor chris christie. >> i did. i can tell you, martin, as a floridian, and all of us here in florida, can really identify and send our thought and prayers and best wishes to the folks in the northeast who have just been through this really horrific natural disaster. we live six months of the year under the cloud of, you know, potentially getting hit by a devastating hurricane, so we know what they're going through. i remember in 1992, when we got hit by hurricane andrew and the devastating aftermath. the importance here, and thankfully, president obama, and thanks to president obama and governor christie, they're working together like leaders
should to make sure that we put politics aside and focus on making sure that as the storm approached, that we pre-positioned, and that's critical, martin, prepositioning the supplies and the things that people will need in the aftermath of the storm, helps make sure that the recovery afterwards, after the storm departs, is much better, that people get back on their feet, that systems are up and running again more quickly, and that's what's so important about fema coordinating with the state, and leaders coordinating in the aftermath of a storm, and in preparing for the onset of a storm. >> congresswoman, you know craig fugate quite well, don't you? >> yes, i do. >> and the president -- indeed, and the president spoke of him, saying that he's done a remarkable job, that he lives and breathes this stuff. you know that from where you live, don't you? >> absolutely. craig fugate was an absolutely incredible emergency management director for our state. there's no better emergency
manager in the country than craig fugate, and to make sure -- to have an administer that's capable, strong at the helm, like him, you know, president obama, rightfully plucked him away from us, but that means that the entire country, particularly the northeast now, gets to benefit from his expertise, from his organizational skills, from his good sense, and from his ability to turn on a dime when something essential is needed. in the aftermath of a storm, that kind of leadership is critical, as is the coordinating efforts of the state, local, and federal government. and another thing, martin, that's really critical is as the communities recover, as these municipalities recover, you know, they're going to go through a lot of clean up of debris and just generally getting roads cleared and ultimately, they're going to need, what happened at fema, ultimately makes decisions about reimbursement. because these municipalities, they don't budget for the expense of devastating natural disasters like this.
so fema's involvement in making sure that we can make these communities whole again, quite literally, is really critical. >> congresswoman, you seem to be hinting at the fact that the republican nominee for president has, up until this point, wanted to dissolve fema. >> no, not at all, although i think that that expression of sentiment was unacceptable, but that's not what i'm referring to at all. what i'm saying is that when you go through a natural disaster like this, knowing, because we have fantastic experts at the national hurricane center, who are able to tell us that a storm is coming, and we get enough time and enough notice now to really prepare, we've seen what's happened in previous storms, when prepositioning didn't take place, when there was not the preparation and the prepositions, and we also have seen, as we did in katrina, when people are left sort of twisting in the wind, you know, forgive
the expression, and left on their own, without assistance. so making sure that we have coordinated efforts, between our state, local, and federal government leaders is absolutely critical, to make sure that people can get back up and running, back on their feet as soon as possible. the whole notion of we will rebuild, that's what we did down here, and that was our mantra down here in south florida after andrew. i can see that that's what we're gearing up for in the northeast. one thing i can tell you, that 15-minute requirement that the president, the edict that president obama has said that people get called back in 15 minutes, and we figure out whatever we can do to get to yes, that is critical in the aftermath of a storm. >> representative debbie wasserman schultz, thank you so much. and let's bring in from boston, congressman ed markey of massachusetts. good afternoon, sir. i want to get your reaction to this, on the issue of climate change.
now, as you know, climate change is at our door. sometimes the gop seems to find it the funniest thing on earth, but how does a country fight climate change when it's still trying to convince majorities in the house that it even exists? >> well, governor romney did believe in climate change, when he was the governor of massachusetts. he did believe in, in fact, funding of clean energy companies in massachusetts. but he could not be nominated as the republican for president in 2012 if he continued to espouse those beliefs. >> why? why could he not? why could he not? >> nancy pelosi created a select committee on energy independence and global warming, as soon as we took over the congress in 2007. and she did so in order to ensure that, one, we backed out imported oil, and one of the first things we did was pass legislation to improve fuel economy standards to 55 miles
per gallon by the year 2026 and back out all the oil which we import from the persian gulf and 6 billion metric tons of co2 per year. the president romney and the republicans are pledging to repeal those standards. and we also dramatically increased the funding for winds, and for solar, and for other clean energy technologies, which they also are saying they no longer want to fund, while keeping the tax breaks for oil on the books. so the first thing they did, as soon as they took over in 2011 was abolish the select committee on energy independence and global warming and then have a vote on the house floor that called for a repeal of climate science, like they would repeal the law of gravity or the law of science that said the earth revolves around the